The Holidays are an interesting time. There is an expectation to spend time with family and friends, to be joyous and celebratory. And for some we are genuinely just that; excited, joyous and full of the celebratory spirit! And for many others the holidays are a mixed bag, or perhaps an even particularly hard time.
Family dynamics can be stressful, gift giving and even receiving can bring up emotional as well as financial stress, reminders of those no longer with us can bring up sadness, the list could go on. And then the days are at their shortest, the nights can feel long and cold and many suffer from seasonal depression during this time.
So how do you take care of yourself during this time? Here are a few tips and ideas from my own experience:
1. Take care of YOU and what you need! Holidays are often a time for giving, but they are also a time for receiving, and that includes giving yourself a gift! And that doesn't mean you have to go out and buy yourself a present. Be your own best friend and ask yourself what you need this holiday season. Maybe it is to curl up on your own with a good book and a cup of hot tea and sit this one out. Maybe it is to speak up and ask for what you really want from family and friends as gifts rather than hope they will read your mind and end up with more junk that sits unused in your closet.
2. Take vitamin D daily and get some sunlight daily too! Ideally take a walk when the sun is out, and get yourself a little light box and use it for at least a half hour in the first half of the day.
3. Be gentle with yourself. However you are feeling this holiday season, it is ok.
4. Find the people you can be honest with about how you feel. Acknowledging and sharing how you feel often makes the burden lighter.
5. Focus on quality time rather than quantity of gifts. Quality time spent with those you love and care about is often better than any gift you could give. And maybe a hand written note that says you care is the best gift you can give.
6. Let go of the myth of perfection! Take a step back and recognize that this is just one month of the year. And there are many other times to and ways to show people you love them. Do what you can and feel called to do this holiday season, but forgive yourself for anything you choose not to do.
7. What would feel joyous to you? Forget that it is The Holidays, with a capitol T and H.... If it were just a normal day what would feel good and bring you joy to do? Maybe it is to have a small group of friends over for tea. Or to meet a friend to go ice skating. Or make s'mores over the fire with you dog. See where you can feel some genuine excitement about and be as present in that moment as you can and go do that!
8. Get some exercise! When it is cold outside and your to do list feels like a never ending list of things to do for others, self care can be the first thing to go. Take a break and go get some exercise for you! It may sound harsh, but if the others are worth your time they will forgive you and even celebrate with you that you took time for yourself.
I hope those tips help you! I know the winter months are often not easy for me, so I am doing my best to ebb and flow with my own needs to hibernate and take it easy and also a desire to feel connected. May you find a little piece of inner peace this holiday season and I will see you on the other side!